“…Then He laid His right hand on me
‘Don’t be afraid!
I am the first and the last, the living One.
I was dead,
But now I am alive forever.
I have the keys of death and hell.’”
John had been living in a forced exile and was nearing the end of his life when he had this experience with Jesus. John had knownHim. He had walkedwith Him. He had spent yearswith Him, and had shared a close, loving relationship with Jesus in those years. John had known Him well.
Yet, in his exile, loneliness, and all the memories which he held in his heart, he didn’t recognize this One he loved so much. John hadn’t humanly known Him in his present context. He was suffering and alone. John had communicated with God’s Angel before, but this would be different. (Rev. 1:12-18)
Jesus came. But not as John had experienced or known Him before.
Jesus’ tender, powerful words to John were unexpected. John was frightened. It had been a long time since he had experienced any human tenderness . . . perhaps any human interaction at all. He must have thought that his life was over. Everything revolved around memories . . . the past.
In the desert, my people there have taught me so many things that were not of my experience in the Western world. There, the “right hand” has significance, on a daily basis. The right hand is treated differently than the left. It is the hand that touches another person. The greeting of a hand-shake, the friendly touch on a shoulder, . . . these touches of affection are done with the right hand. The left hand is used for dirty tasks, and the friendly touch is not done with the left. Respect is demonstrated by the use of the clean right hand.
The noted detail of Jesus laying His right handon John’s shoulder has meaning. It silently expresses the touch of a Friend, with tenderness, respect, and affection. John must have needed that touch. He had been isolated. . . alone . . .for such a long time. And Jesus was asking him to write the things He was about to show him. Things belonging to the future that had not been revealed before. John would have needed that unspoken reassurance from his dearly loved Friend as he took pen in hand and began to write.
Such kindness, tenderness, and respect Jesus wove into this Divine Encounter.